Former first lady Michelle Obama called on the “nation’s leaders” to honor a peaceful presidential transition in a reflective Instagram post on Monday, where she recalled her family’s own experience leaving the White House and how they handled President Trump’s ascension to power in 2016.
Her comments on the election, which Democrat Joe Biden won handily against incumbent Donald Trump in both the popular vote and electoral vote, follow the president’s refusal to concede and fellow members of the Republican Party remaining silent — or even encouraging — his baseless claims of voter fraud and lawsuits filed by his campaign in multiple battleground states.
Most recently, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — who is a Republican — said Monday that he has faced pressure from members of his own party, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to question the validity of absentee ballots cast in the state, the Washington Post reported. Several national news outlets have projected that Biden narrowly won the state over Trump.
Obama was candid in admitting that she was “hurt and disappointed” by the election results four years ago when Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the presidency. But, she wrote, “the votes had been counted and Donald Trump had won.”
“The American people had spoken,” Obama wrote in the post. “And one of the great responsibilities of the presidency is to listen when they do.”
Despite her reservations about Trump, Obama detailed how she and her husband, former president Barack Obama, instructed their staffs to “run a respectful, seamless transition of power — one of the hallmarks of American democracy,” as George and Laura Bush had done for them in 2008. The pair instructed staff members to participate in the transition, and they invited members of then president-elect Trump’s team into their offices, “and prepared detailed memos for them.”
Trump’s refusal to admit defeat, and mounting legal challenges, have rendered Biden’s team unable to access crucial information and prepare for when he takes office in January. Analysts and security experts have warned that delaying Biden’s transition could have national security implications, especially at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is worsening nationwide. In the past week, a growing number of Republicans have said that Biden should have access to classified briefings.
“I have to be honest and say that none of this was easy for me,” Obama wrote. “Donald Trump had spread racist lies about my husband that had put my family in danger. That wasn’t something I was ready to forgive. But I knew that, for the sake of our country, I had to find the strength and maturity to put my anger aside.”
As a result, Obama wrote how she welcomed Melania Trump into the White House and shared her own experience being the first lady, answering “every question she had.”
“I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do — because our democracy is so much bigger than anybody’s ego,” she wrote. “Our love of country requires us to respect the results of an election even when we don’t like them or wish it had gone differently — the presidency doesn’t belong to any one individual or any one party.”
Obama ended her post with an impassioned remark, rebutting those who are refusing to accept the results of the election in the interest of their own political party or personal gain as playing along with “groundless conspiracy theories.” She wrote that to engage in bad-faith arguments puts “our country’s health and security in danger.”
“This isn’t a game,” Obama wrote. “So I want to urge all Americans, especially our nation’s leaders, regardless of party, to honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power, just as sitting presidents have done throughout our history.”
Obama appeared in a few videos for president-elect Joe Biden during his campaign — in one, accusing Trump of “willful mismanagement” of the coronavirus crisis and of racism. Her husband is currently promoting his new memoir, called “A Promised Land.”
In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday night, the former president also spoke of a divided nation and called on Trump to accept the results of the election.
“When your time is up, then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments,” he said. “My advice to President Trump is, if you want at this late stage in the game to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it’s time for you to do the same thing.”